COVID-19: More Girls in North-east to Be out of Schools, Says Report

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By Michael Olugbode

A new report by Connected Development and Malala Fund, has suggested that there may be a drastic drop in the number of girls from schools across the North-east, a region badly devastated by the effects of prolonged insurgency.

This hint was contained in a study report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Girls’ Education in the North-east, recently launched by CODE in collaboration with the Malala Fund.

According to the report, caregivers in rural areas of Adamawa state appeared certain that the girls in their care would not be returning to school due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report further stated that many of the girls interviewed had doubts that they would be allowed to continue their education, while a percentage of the girls were certain that they would be getting married in a short while.

In the post-COVID-19 impact survey report, CODE, in a statement by its Communications Associate, Adaora Okoye said: “In some cases, cultural and traditional barriers are preventing girls from returning to school; girls may be less preferred to return to school as opposed to their male counterparts due to the male-child preference system. Girls are also more at risk of being married off or undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).”

The report, according to CODE, showed that “the pandemic exposed girls to increased shortcomings and challenges that already exist in the education system, including sexual harassment linked to gender-based violence, child marriage, harmful norms, inadequate teachers and WASH facilities.”

“These factors also kept a good number of girls out of school pre-COVID”, it added.

As a way forward, Chief Executive of CODE and the Malala Fund Education Champion, Mr. Hamzat Lawal, called on governments at all levels to make a paradigm shift to encourage greater girl child education.

“The future of our world is a deliberate investment in the younger generation, particularly girls. To educate girls is to empower a nation.

“Government must proactively set up a gender-responsive plan for school resumption, in the wake of the pandemic,” the CODE boss stated.

Lawal named some of the suggested gender-responsive measures to include providing more funds for education and ensuring every community has a female secondary school, provision of hand washing points, other WASH facilities, and personal protective equipment amongst others.

“We suggest that, all existing SIM Cards must be paired with the NIN numbers within a stipulated time, while an average of three months should be allowed for smooth and effective pairing.

“We also suggest that, the SIM Cards sale, registrations and activations should be allowed to continue, while an average of 10 new NIN machines is deployed in every local government in the 774 local governments of the federation for a better reach.

“That no new SIM Card should be allowed to synchronize without the support of NIN number and ID card until the SIM Card and NIN number pairing is concluded,” he said.